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Untitled Document
Transparent utfyllnad Cabo da Praia (Terceira) – still a Western Palearctic wader hot-spot?

Monitoring in progress at Cabo da Praia 2007-02-03. Photo: Bosse Carlsson

August 2007: The waders are still there! As you might have noticed elsewhere a Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica (new for the Azores) was spotted in the quarry by Peter Alfrey and Simon Buckell the 25th of July.
But there is still some construction work going on, and the best way to approach the area is via Canada da Faneca (see under February 2006 below).
   However we have got a promising report from Marco Lopes, who is the biologist monitoring the environmental program set up by the constructors. There will be no further land demand for the constructions, and some of the closer areas, now occupied with temporary equipment, will be cleaned up at the end of the construction works. There are also future plans for cleaning the area from waste that was dumped there before the construction period and improvements for bird watching. (Hopefully this would include a straight way in, a parking place and a small shelter.)
   The monitoring activities that are carried out by Marco Lopes during the construction period include:
1- Environmental audits (in the construction area)
2- Noise monitoring - Results good (range from 42 - 49 dBA)
3- Water quality - Results good; - (two complete water analyses)
4- Air quality - PM10. Relatively high (reducing in result of the ending of the construction. It also moved further way form the sensitive area) (three complete campaigns);
5- Vegetation (species and surface occupation); - finishing surface distribution and species identification;
6- Bird fauna - (last three month - weekly) apparently stable
   The bird fauna that is counted (low tide and high tide) include only the most common species: Charadrius alexandrinus, Arenaria interpres, Sterna hirundo, and Sterna dougallii. For the waders the number of Charadris alexandrinus was between 96 and 126 birds with an average of 112 (May and June). The corresponding number for Arenaria interpres was between 29 and 68, with an average of 54 birds.
   The monitoring activities will go on with next campaign (air, water, and noise) in late August and September. Any additional complete wader counts from visiting birders are most welcome, especially if all species are counted. Please send data to Birding Azores and we will compile and forward them to the right address.
   The construction work is planned to end in October this year, and below you can see a key map of the area.

October 2006: More hope for the wader site at Cabo da Praia? The construction works, i.e. the transferring of more areas of tidal pools into industrial land, seem to have stopped. And there are some rumours about nature protection actions taken from the authorities. We are trying to check this out, and will be back if we get any more news. All of you that have visited the site this autumn, or have been following what has been seen in "Recent sightings", have noticed that the locality still is of a very high importance for waders.

Cabo da Praia 2006-09-22. Photo: Jan-Michael Breider

March 2006: There might still be some hope? When Bosse Carlsson visited the area on the 22th, he noted that the ground preparing work seemed to be stopped. There were now instead constructing activities on prepared areas, but no more work was carried out in the southernmost part.

Furthermore Luis Costa, Director Executivo of SPEA gives the following information in mid March: "Soon after becoming aware of the ongoing construction of this well-known site in mid-February, SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) has contacted formally and informally with several contacts at the Azores government regional ministries of Environment and the Economy. I have talked in person with the regional minister of environment, and she is by now well aware about the importance and uniqueness of the site, and was going to convey the message to all the relevant people.
The development in question is associated with an expansion of the fuel depot, and is promoted by the regional ministry of economy. The development has been subjected to an EIA assessment, and SPEA has already asked for all the relevant documents to check conformity.
We will send you an update at a later stage, but would like to reassure you that we are doing our best to secure the conservation of this site."

When visiting the site March 22, Bosse noted the following number of waders:
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula: 1, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus: 30, Red Knot Calidris canutus: 3, Sanderling Calidris alba: 60, Little Stint Calidris minuta: 3, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea: 2, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa: 1, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica: Whimbrel Numenius p. phaeopus: 4, and Turnstone Arenaria interpres: 50.

February 2006:
At the quarry in Cabo da Praia the construction work is continuing and the area is now partly fenced off, and even the southern part seems threatened. The number of birds has decreased and in worst case the wader count on 12th February 2006 may be one of the last concerning good numbers of several species: Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula: 3, Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus: 1, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus: 39, Red Knot Calidris canutus: 3, Sanderling Calidris alba: 41, Little Stint Calidris minuta: 3, Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla: 1, White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis: 1, Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea: 2, Dunlin Calidris alpina: 4, Ruff Philomachus pugnax: 1, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa: 1, Whimbrel Numenius p. phaeopus: 6 and Turnstone Arenaria interpres: 29.
   The best way to approach the wader site is now to skip the main road down to the southern harbour area. Take instead the next (south of) small road to the left (Canada da Faneca), go past the houses up to the top and walk down the last part. You now end up on top of the southwest part of the site.

 – Staffan Rodebrand, Sweden
January 2006: Over the last few years almost half of the area at the quarry on the southern side of Cabo da Praia has been destroyed as a wader resting habitat. Since November last year there have been new activities going on, and the small vegetated pools in the northern part where Tringa waders and Pectoral Sandpipers like to hide are now just a memory. Will it stop here or will the construction works carry on further south to the now only remaining part? Furthermore, the dumping of rubbish seems to increase – it is probably too long to go to the official rubbish dump northeast of Angra (the so called Terceira landfill).
   Does anyone know if the local authorities are aware of the ornithological importance of the area? Not only for migrant waders, but also for the entire local population of Kentish Plover!

 – Staffan Rodebrand, Sweden

Message from David Monticelli on 2nd February 2006, concerning the mentioned destruction of Cabo da Praia, as follows:

I had a chance to visit the Azores a couple of years ago, including this famous site at Cabo da Praia. For those familiar with Azores birding, it is rather clear that Cabo is indeed the sole magnet throughout the archipelago where virtually all American waders will pop at some point. I was planning a second trip this autumn with some friends given the recent news about Corvo and its potential for passerines. Cabo da Praia was of course one of the spot of the trip. I think we are with few tools to 'defend' this site, but there is an Azorean guy that lives in Terceira (can't remember his name but Helder Costa from the Portuguese committee will know) that made a final thesis during the 90ties about this site and its importance for birds. Not only was it good for American waders, but also to the Kentish Plover that breeds there and feeding on an rare species of fly that lives in those ponds. This guy was already defending the site against development but he said that the main tool could be a petition.

 – David Monticelli, Belgium

Photos: The quarry at Cabo da Praia in January and February 2006. The most famous Azorean bird locality, and an important Western Palearctic wader site, that should be treated much better than this. Photos: Staffan Rodebrand, Sweden

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